By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Congress on Thursday is set to debate "emergency" border security legislation that lawmakers acknowledge will not be enacted but will enable them to campaign for re-election by arguing they worked to address a humanitarian crisis. Republicans and Democrats have been sparring over President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion to respond to the crisis in which tens of thousands of Central American children have tried to enter the United States illegally. With Congress on the verge of beginning its five-week summer recess, the votes in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-held Senate on Thursday will mark a holding pattern. It is unclear whether the thorny immigration funding problem will nose its way into efforts to pass the budget bill and avoid a repeat of the government shutdown last October, when Republicans tried to hobble Obama's 2010 healthcare law.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend pointed to a continuing strengthening of labor market conditions. Other data on Thursday suggested a long-awaited acceleration in wage growth was imminent, with labor costs recording their largest increase in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 for the week ended July 26, the Labor Department said. "Unemployment claims have come down a lot as of late and suggest that labor market conditions continue to improve," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 2009 law that establishes a registry for same-sex couples, saying it does not violate an amendment to the state's constitution banning gay marriage. The gay marriage ban was approved by Wisconsin voters in 2006. It now has more than 2,000 couples on it, according to Fair Wisconsin, a gay-rights organization based in Madison. Wisconsin Family Action, an anti-gay rights group, argued in a 2010 lawsuit that the registry violated the amendment because it resembles marriage under state law.
NEW YORK (AP) ? U.S. stocks slumped Thursday as investors reacted to disappointing corporate earnings reports and assessed the implications of the approaching end to economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. That stimulus has underpinned gains in the stock market for years. Argentina's stock market plunged after the South American nation defaulted on its debt for the second time in 13 years.